August 30, 2012 by Daniel Beckworth
I’ve been reading Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick. He may not be the best exegetical preacher you know, but the man brings some excitement and inspiration. In his book, he recounts a moment he calls his “Page 23 Vision.” He recalls sitting at his kitchen table as a teenager reading the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Furtick was drawn to a line in the book that read,
“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.”
That one line birthed in Furtick a vision to plant a church and preach the gospel. It was a life changing moment. God spoke a divine vision into his heart and called Furtick to have the faith to belief that God could do the impossible. Having the faith that God can do the impossible is not alone; it must be accompanied with actions that back up our belief.
I, similarly, have a defining moment in my faith journey. It came while reading Francis Chan’s bestseller Crazy Love. This isn’t a great work of systematic theology or the deepest book you’ll read, but the Holy Spirit used these words to ignite a fire in my heart and radically shaped my life. My copy of Crazy Love is beat up, worn, and is now pink instead of red! The pages are torn. The binding is broken and there are so many highlights you can barely read it. I love the entire book, but there is one page that stands out. Its words leap off the page. On page 67 you find this,
“Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on things of this world?
Are you satisfied being “godly enough’ to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others? Or can you say with Paul that you ‘want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’ (Phil 3:10)?”
I remember reading those words in my car in the parking lot at my job. It was like a spiritual kick in the gut. A wake up call. The conviction I felt so overwhelmed me that I busted into tears (and I hate admitting that) and out of anger through the book down. It was two weeks before I mustered the courage to pick up the book again and went straight for page 67.
It was true. I was stuck in spiritual survival mode just hoping to be slightly better than your average Southern Baptist. I had no passion for Christ. Paul’s words are so intimidating when you first read them. Who doesn’t want to know Christ? That seems like a no-brainer. But then he goes deeper by saying he wants to know the deep, intimate fellowship with Christ that only comes through suffering. Through obedience. Through full commitment. By surrendering every inch and compartment of your heart.
It was life changing. It was liberating. My relationship with Christ has radically changed. I have a passion for the things of God and seeing His kingdom grow here on earth. No one wants to live a passionless life with no meaning. A life of meaning and passion comes by submitting to God’s vision and will for your life.
What books have spoken to you?